Form, Content, and Subject Matter
GENZ 220Z-Art Critique Paper
Shelby M. Dykes
In this paper, I will discuss the form, content, and subject matter of three different paintings. Each of the paintings represents the following: representational painting, abstract painting, and a portrait. The paintings I have chosen are: Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks 1942, Wassily Kodinsky’s Colour Studies: Squares and Concentrentic Circles 1913, and Pablo Picasso’s Self-Portrait 1907.
Representational paintings show clear objects or events and have a clear subject matter in the painting. The subject matter is quite evident in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. The subject matter is the dominating, brightly lit ...view middle of the document...
The brilliant streak of green along the window sill is a great example of green at its saturation. The building is proportionately larger than the patrons sitting inside.
The diner gives a feeling of doom and loneliness; this is the content. It seems as if Hopper wants us to see the people dining, but he does not emphasize the human element in the painting. It is strange that the window does not show a reflection of the viewer looking into it. The man sitting at the corner of the counter is dark and looks sinister. Is he a “bad guy?” Even the coffee pot behind the counter seems proportionately larger than the people. The coffee pot dominates the size of the people. I don’t see a door in the diner, are the customers “trapped?” the painting brings the suggestion of “once upon time.” Edward Hopper’s, Nighthawks, is a clear example of a representational painting. Although I think other participants would agree that the diner is the subject matter and the form is clear, would a viewer agree with the ominous, scary feeling that I feel makes up the content?
Wassily Kandisky’s, Colour Studies: Squares and Concentric Circles is the painting I have chosen to demonstrate abstract painting. Abstract art does not have a recognizable subject matter. Instead the color, form, line, and even texture are clearly the subject. It is completely non-representational; the content is the feeling evoked by the color and form, etc. This painting represents something that is not visual. It represents a sound, emotion, or experience. Upon looking at this painting, I can see that Kandinsky used careful planning in the painting of what at first seems like “just circles.”
The painting is making my eye look at the contrast of the color and the contrast of the shapes. The composition is made up of twelve sections of relatively equal portioned circles that are inside of squared-off into divisional angles. The square shape consumes all the space of the overlapping colors created by the circles. The painting has perfect balance, movement, rhythm, proportion, variety, and unity! Even texture is achieved by the circular lines and brush strokes. I can almost picture Kandinsky’s brush moving around the painting in quick, swooping motions. The linear design of the painting is clear with the vertical and horizontal, fine lines painted as squares.
Without a doubt, the “all-at –onceness” of the painting is created by the color. Kandinsky used such a wide range of color techniques that when I close my eyes upon viewing the painting, the image is still present. The colors are bright primary and secondary colors mixed with more earthy hues. The two overlapping circles on the bottom left are made evident by the low value of the green mixing with the saturated red to create almost a black. The contrast created by the black and yellow square touching is eye-catching. The gradation in the upper left square is evident by the continuous changes from the swirl surrounding the circle. It...